Kirk the Mechanic from Queens

I was walking around Queens the other day taking photographs of hard-working Americans who have persevered through the Coronavirus pandemic. Kirk was very grac...
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I was walking around Queens the other day taking photographs of hard-working Americans who have persevered through the Coronavirus pandemic. Kirk was very gracious with his time and with his smile!
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10 Comments | Report
bonbon_3408 November 04, 2020
Betny November 15, 2020
deekaycee Ultimate
deekaycee December 08, 2020
Congratulations on your photo contest win!
vitor Platinum
vitor December 08, 2020
Congratulations ! Very good message!
Kerry1 PRO+
Kerry1 December 08, 2020
Congrats! Great message! Love the photo!
brucedavisphoto Ultimate
brucedavisphoto December 09, 2020
Congratulations on 1st place in the Image Of The Month Contest.
larryd December 10, 2020
Black Lives don't matter
stigfagerli PRO+
stigfagerli December 12, 2020
Top shot congrat with price
dianebillings December 14, 2020
Congrats! Great photo 👍
YinzerMediaProductions December 16, 2020
All lives matter.
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Behind The Lens

I took this photo in Jamaica, Queens (NYC).
It was mid afternoon on a hot and humid day when I came across Kirk's auto garage. It was located on a street lousy with industrial spaces, tire shops, second-hand hubcap dealerships and junk yards. Kirk looked out from under the hood of a car he was repairing and smiled. I said hello, handed him my card, and explained that I was conducting a photography project that aimed to honor hard-working blue collar citizens and asked if I could take a few pictures of him. He obliged. In my final shot, he held out my card and this is the photo that I submitted to this contest. I told Kirk that I had covered the Jacob Holt protest and march in Manhattan just a few days earlier and asked if I could change the face of my card to reflect the Black Lives Matter social sentiment. He agreed that this would be a cool idea. And so I did.
The lighting in the shop was part natural and part florescent. I was able to adjust the white balance in Light Room. No flash was used.
This was shot using a Nikon Z6 camera with a 35mm f/1.8 lens (2500 ISO f/4 1/400 sec). No other equipment was used.
I am drawn to inner-city and industrial spaces where the grit is thick, the paint is chipped and the bricks are cracked. And I stand with African American men and woman, boys and girls, in their quest for social and economic equality. I spent an entire day photographing the workers and owners at nearly every business along this long stretch of town. One man, a worker at a tire shop who goes by the nickname "Little Hop", sent me a text that night with some photos he took of his wife, his car, his home - all of which were beautiful. Kirk's brother Brian and I spoke for a long while about how his faith and family has helped him stay sober for over 20 years. Angel was shy and didn't speak but I could see that he wanted his photo taken and it turned out to be one of the most genuine moments frozen in time that day. Julio, Kelvin, Mitch...there were many kind-hearted and benevolent characters who welcomed me into their place of business and truly made this day one of the most memorable and rewarding ones of my career.
Yes. I changed the face of my square business card to the "Black Lives Matter" face in the photo as explained above.
In my camera bag
Most of my work comes from long days on the streets. Therefore I tend to load my Peak Designs pack conservatively. My camera body is a Nikon Z6 and I use a Z 35mm f/1.8 prime lens for most of my street shooting in the spirit of many street masters. But I also take along a Z 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom in case I find myself in tight spaces or need a little more focal length. A lightweight Joby tripod and a few high density filters come in handy when I want to do a timed exposure. And I always have my trusty Godox TT685 speed light close at hand for fills, and for certain other applications at night. I would pack my Nikon 70-22mm f/2.8 zoom if it wasn't so heavy. But I wear my gear on my back, and long hours with a heavy pack isn't much fun at all! So my stash other fun toys and glass stay at home unless I am driving to a shoot.
I think it's important to always be respectful and approach people with kindness. In a case where I am approaching a person at their place of work, I always offer them my business card and introduce myself and my project. "Hi my name if Jeff and I'm doing a photography project that honors the hard-working citizens of industrial New York. Would you mind if I take some pictures of you? I can send you copies of them if you'd like." During the mini session I might say things like, "You know I have an idea that I think would be really cool...can we try it out?" And then explain the idea and let them decide. If your intentions are good, I have found that most people will trust you and follow your lead.

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